On our recent visit to the Australian Wildlife Park near Gosford north of Sydney, I was pleased that a part of their collection of animals included birds. In fact, some of the birds were in walk-through aviaries. Such cages are good opportunities to get good photos of species it would be hard to obtain with animals in the wild.
One of the aviaries featured owls and frogmouths. I’ll show the owls in another post in a few days’ time.
Tawny Frogmouths, as shown in today’s post (above and below) are one of my favourite birds. Ever since a family Easter camp in the 1986 at Hattah-Kulkyne National Park in north-west Victoria we have loved these birds. On that occasion one decided to roost on a branch above our tent and call for quite a while during the night. Once we worked out what it was, the constant oom-oom-oom call soothingly put us to sleep.
We have occasionally heard and seen this species in our garden at home in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Because of its soft call we do not hear it if the television is going in the evening. Perhaps that is a good reason for occasionally switching it off.
My wife and I are currently staying with our son and family in Artarmon, a suburb of Sydney in New South Wales. Our two grandchildren, ages 5 and nearly 3 are taking an increasing interest in birds, due mainly from my influence. I often have my binoculars out looking at the birds seen in their garden or in nearby parks.
Last week my son was removing some clothes from the clothesline after dark. As he was getting the clothes off, he realised that he was being watched from the top of the clothesline a mere two metres away. From his own observations he instantly recognised it as a Tawny Frogmouth.
The bird stayed on the clothesline as he chatted quietly to it, removing the clothes slowly. As he turned to go inside, the bird silently flew off. He remarked to me how silently it departed.
Two nights ago the bird returned; I am assuming it was the same bird. Again it was perched on top of the clothesline. This time the grandchildren were still awake, so in turn I picked them up and quietly approached the clothesline. Each of them had good views of the bird before it silently flew off into the night.
I didn’t get a photograph as I was more interested in letting the children see the bird. Below is a photo taken in a friend’s garden in the Adelaide Hills several years ago.
A few night ago we were suddenly aware of the familiar call of a Southern Boobook owl quite close to our house. I only took a few moments to locate it in the large tree next to our clothes line. I didn’t bother getting out the camera to get some photos because the last time I saw one in our garden I got the photo shown above. It is quite possibly the same bird.
It has been some time since we heard a Boobook in our garden; usually we have the television going at night and that tends to drown out the night sounds. On this occasion we had both been working on cleaning out the office, so the television was off. Perhaps we should do that more often!
Much to our delight we heard it calling again the following night. It would be lovely to be able to call it a resident bird present nearly every night, instead of just an occasional visitor every few years. It is quite welcome to move in and can have all the mice it can catch while it stays.
My wife and I are currently staying in Sydney with our son and his family. We are having great fun playing with our two grandchildren age 5 and 2.5. We will be here until Christmas.
Because of the configuration of the house, the spare bedroom is at the back of the house, next to some large bushes and near to some large street trees. Up until recent days the Laughing Kookaburras have woken us before 5am; one morning it was 4:33am. As first light filters through the trees the hundreds of locally resident Rainbow Lorikeets start up their screeching as they fly from tree to tree.
Because of those two noisy resident species we treasure every second of sleep we can get, especially when the grandchildren usually knock on our door well before 7am. So it was a little disconcerting to have a Tawny Frogmouth doing the overnight shift, calling just outside our bedroom window! Fortunately, the call was soft enough not to keep me awake.
The nocturnal bird called the Tawny Frogmouth is one of my favourite birds. Ever since we saw one in a tree above our tent near Lake Hattah in north west Victoria many years ago, this species has had a special place in our lives.
Being nocturnal, it is not a bird seen all that often. It is more commonly heard calling at night. From time to time we have one in our garden. One has even banged against our sliding glass door whilst catching a moth fluttering there.
Finding them in broad daylight is a challenge. They are usually well camouflaged perched on the limb of a tree, their feathers blending in with the colours and markings of the branch. When smaller birds – such as honeyeaters – become aware of the presence of a frogmouth or an owl for that matter, they set up quite a fuss, drawing attention to the roosting bird.
The bird shown in today’s photos is a captive bird, part of the excellent collection of birds of the Adelaide Zoo in South Australia.